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Former Bayfield star Clay Miller now coaches Ignacio baseball with his dad

Former Wolverines take over IHS baseball program

The prospect of a summer without baseball appeared very real to former Bayfield High School star Clay Miller.

Pain in his pitching arm eventually required Tommy John surgery to repair his left ulnar collateral ligament. It abbreviated Miller’s first collegiate season at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix last spring and started a long rehabilitation process.

“I’ve been rehabbing and basically sitting around doing nothing,” said Miller, son of Mitzi and Robert Miller.

Then Ignacio High School hired Robert Miller as its head baseball coach for the 2015 season.

He previously coached youth baseball for more than 30 years before looking for a new challenge with the Bobcats.

He needed an assistant, though, so Robert Miller called one of the most knowledgeable baseball minds he knew – Clay.

“I thought he’d be a pretty good (coach),” Robert Miller said of his son. “He’s got a lot of knowledge to pass along to these high school aged kids.”

The phone call from dad pulled Clay Miller off the couch and back onto the diamond.

Robert Miller carries the “head coach” label but primarily works with the team on its defensive alignments and skills.

Clay Miller focuses on the Bobcats’ pitching and hitting – fitting for someone who was a 35th-round pick by the Kansas City Royals in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

“He’s been all over – he’s pitched great,” said IHS senior Zach Weinreich, son of Francesca and Ian Weinreich. “If we’re doing bullpens he can tell what’s going on if you’re messing up here or you’re missing your spots.”

In addition to Clay Miller’s experience on the mound, both Millers have brought a level of professionalism and seriousness to the IHS program.

Robert Miller focuses on fundamentals and wants the Bobcats to play the “right way.”

“They know a lot of good, fundamental baseball. And that’s what our team needed,” said IHS senior Iassic Peña, son of Kenneth and Shasta Peña. “They know a lot, and they can teach us a lot. We’re just trying to take it all in.”

The Bobcats experienced some growing pains adjusting to a new way of thinking and playing.

They went 1-2 in a junior varsity first tournament last weekend in Farmington, and Robert Miller viewed it as a solid starting point for the rest of the season.

“Preseason ball, to me, is just trying to get all of the kids involved and see what you have for when league starts,” he said. “Sometimes there’s too much stress on winning these preseason games for the rankings. I don’t believe that. I believe you try to win your league and move on from there.”

As for Clay Miller, he’s committed to coaching this season and then will try to find his way back to the mound.

He has about one month of rehab left then will return to South Mountain Community College in the fall.

“This got me a chance to get more involved and get back into the baseball aspect of life,” Clay Miller said. “Hopefully I’ll come back 100 percent or even better.”


If you go

Who: Sargent at Ignacio

What: high school baseball

When: 3 p.m. today

Where: SunUte Community Center

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